The Perfect Mountain Retreat in Massanutten


Happy new week, friends! I just returned from a wonderful press trip to Massanutten Resort in Virginia, which is about a 20 minute drive from where I went to college at James Madison. This trip was so much fun, not only because the resort itself is full of any and every activity you could ever want (more on that later), but also because I got to meet up with my dearest girlie bestie for it, and we were able to take a pit stop at JMU on the way to Massanutten, as well. Top on our list of places to hit for our quick college reunion were our old Mexican food fave, El Charro, as well as ice cream at Kline’s and a quick walk by the quad to visit the James Madison statue and the offices of our old college paper, The BreezeLisa and I could not stop talking about how our love for journalism began in those tiny Breeze offices … as well as our love for each other 😉

Continue reading “The Perfect Mountain Retreat in Massanutten”

Tramways, Breweries, Rattlesnakes and More in Albuquerque

Hi friends,

So these past few days have been a whirlwind, but I wanted to try to get stuff down as it’s happening, so I’ll do my best to get through this post (even though my eyes are drooping as I type — so please forgive any typos!). The good people at the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau so kindly invited me out to New Mexico for a press trip, which of course I happily accepted. I flew out early Monday morning and arrived around 5 p.m. Monday evening.

And I’ve been on the go ever since.

So of course I have about 1,000 photos to share, and I figured the best way to go about this (at least the first two-days’ worth) is to explain via photo what I’ve done so far on my trip. For starters, I’m staying at Hotel Andaluz, which is located conveniently in downtown Albuquerque and is so stunningly modern and wonderful I can’t stand it. I’ll be having dinner at the restaurant here tomorrow night, too, so I’ll be sure to share how that goes.

Anyway, on to a bit of what I’ve seen so far. Hold on to your hats kids — it’s been a wild two days!

Continue reading “Tramways, Breweries, Rattlesnakes and More in Albuquerque”

Cabo San Lucas and Grand Solmar

Welcome to Grand Solmar (still under construction!)

So as you may or may not remember, I was invited a while back to attend a press trip in Cabo San Lucas for the grand opening of the new luxury Grand Solmar Resort & Spa. Having never been on a press trip before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Turns out I should have expected a pretty amazing time—because that’s exactly what we had. On top of the awesome hotel, the breathtaking views, the flowing drinks, and the tasty food, we also had a few days-worth of really fun off-site adventures, and the other people on the press trip were totally sweet and fun, as well.

Our Delta flight had us flying out of JFK at 6:20 a.m. on Thursday, which is obviously super early, but at least that meant that we would arrive by 12:30 Cabo San Lucas time, so that was the good part about it.

And here’s the thing about Grand Solmar—when they say luxury, they really mean luxury. Grand Solmar is not a hotel where I could ever afford to stay in the future (unless of course I become a wildly successful travel writer some day 🙂 ), which means it was that much nicer to stay there this past weekend, and Steph and I could appreciate it so much more. The views were beautiful, and the rooms were spotless (complete with comfy robes, turn down service, and tasty treats left every night), with huge porches overlooking the ocean. As this was not an all-inclusive, meals and drinks were a bit pricey (I bought two bottles of Fiji water for almost $20, people. $20). But everything that was included by the press company—dinner at restaurant/tequila bar Hacienda El Coyote (which, by the way, is owned by the same family who owns Grand Solmar) in the town on Thursday night, the outback camel safari with Cabo Adventures including lunch and tequila tasting, appetizers and drinks on Friday night, swimming with the dolphins and a fancy, ocean side dinner on Saturday night, were all amazing. The food was quite tasty—and this time, no revenge (knock on wood!).

Our balcony
The beach—only a few feet from our hotel
The outdoor lobby area
Gotta love a pool bar! (and 2-for-1 Happy Hour!)
I’ve had some decent Mexican food in NYC, but no one does Mexican food like this here

So on Friday morning, Steph and I set out on our camel and safari ride with the group. We took a huge open-air truck through the jungle and hiked up along the mountains. Then we headed to the beach where we literally rode camels, and then it was off to a tortilla making class, a great lunch, and a tequila lesson (the best tequila will have bubbles that last for at least 30 seconds when you shake it. And also, there is a certain type of tequila that people take a shot of and then follow with a cooked cricket chaser. Yes, really. A cricket cooked with salt, pepper, and garlic. I abstained from experiencing cricket on my little Mexico adventure).

Camel riding in Cabo
Our fabulous camel—Slim. Thanks for the ride, Slim!
Our journey started here, in this Mercedes 4-wheel Jeep
Our desert trek brought us along some pretty high hills

Our tour guide explaining how they make corn tortillas in Mexico
Our delicious, homemade Mexican lunch on the safari
Tequila and crickets. No thanks!
Fancied up for appetizers and drinks by the ocean

Saturday we headed back over to Cabo Adventures for our session to swim with the dolphins. If you know anything about me, friends, you’ll know that I’m an animal lover. I wanted to be a veterinarian for a long time, have always volunteered with animals, and am a vegetarian. So heading into this little adventure, I was a bit apprehensive, to say the least. But still, it was something I’ve always wanted to try, and why not try it when it’s free, right? Who can blame me?

Unfortunately our little session only proved me right in terms of feeling apprehensive. Don’t get me wrong—the actual rides with the dolphins (which included a “belly” ride where you hold on to their fins as they swim upside down and a “dorsal fin” ride where you ride on top), and the kisses and the “dancing” you do with them, all of that was super fun. Dolphins are cute. And friendly. And apparently very patient.

Except for that Saturday. These dolphins seemed to have about had enough. It all started when the first dolphin that Steph was supposed to ride with absolutely refused to come over and be a part of our little show. He wasn’t feeling it. Maybe he had a fight with his girlfriend that morning—who knows. Then, a girl in the group next to us had her foot cut on the tooth of a dolphin who came up behind the one she was riding and she accidentally kicked into his mouth.

That was the first time we were ordered out of the water.

The second time we were ordered out of the water was when the same girl (poor girl!) and her friend were taking their photo with the dolphin. Another dolphin came up behind the one they were taking photos with and tried to start playing with him. Both dolphins got antsy and jumpy, the girls got knocked in the head, and we were yet again ordered out of the water, this time so they could “let the dolphins be dolphins for a while,” meaning let them swim around crazily and play and not perform.

This is where the dolphins live. Would you like living here if you were an over 600-lb wild animal?

All in all, a bit of a sobering experience. I say—let the dolphins, free people! It’s not that important to take photos with them, and they clearly aren’t all that happy being held in captivity. Just let the dolphins go!

After our morning with the antsy dolphins, Steph and I headed out to the marina where we found a restaurant on the water that had $1.50 fish tacos with a fixin’s bar that allowed you to throw on all the guacamole, salsa, cole slaw, and other goodies that you could ever want. Delish.

Fish tacos. Yum!

On our final night we attended a ribbon cutting in honor of the naming of their new check-in bar area—Infinity (a Grand Solmar Facebook fan had won the contest to name the bar, along with an all-expense paid trip to the hotel that same weekend. Oh the wonders of Facebook), then we all headed to the ocean-front dinner, complete with live music and “casual elegance” attire. We had five courses, along with different wines for each course and a tequila liquor to finish it off.

Cabo, my friends, is everything everyone says that it is, and I can certainly see why celebs love the place. The only sad thing, if it can be called that, is the fact that it’s hard to find a spot in Cabo where you can actually go in the ocean. The waves are monstrous—I mean really, monstrous. Much larger than anything I have seen in Hawaii or Australia.

Still, I plan to go back some time friends, and I would highly recommend a trip there for anyone who loves the sun, appreciates fabulous Mexican food, and enjoys tequila.

Bis bald, my friends!

Business or Pleasure?

Destination—Grand Solmar Resort, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

This is it—my friends. It’s the day before I can finally answer the question of “Are you traveling for business or pleasure?” with an emphatic “Business!”

Not that I don’t love traveling for pleasure (obviously, I do). It’s just that I have always, always wanted to travel for business, and this, as my first ever true “press” trip, is all too exciting for me.

I received mine and Steph’s full itinerary today for the Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa in Cabo San Lucas, and here’s what we have to look forward to:

We arrive Thursday at noon, and we’ll hit the beach…hard.

Thursday at 7:30 we have dinner reservations at Hacienda El Coyote

Friday morning we’ll be swimming with the dolphins

At 6:30 we’ll have a welcome cocktail on the Don Luis Restaurant Terrace with other press guests

On Saturday morning at 8 a.m. (I know Steph loves that time), we’ll begin our outback & camel safari

At 6:30 we’ll attend a ribbon cutting ceremony

At 7:30 we’ll attend the ‘casual elegance’ attire Gala Dinner on the Land’s End Terrace.

Sunday is our last day. We’ll probably hit the beach for a bit, then the farewell brunch, and then we’ll be off to the airport.

I can’t think about it all too much or I’ll throw up, I’m so dang excited.

Bis bald friends! Details of all our crazy adventures when I get back!